back to article The magic storage formula for successful VDI? Just add SSDs

Every pure solid-state disk (SSD) and hybrid storage vendor on earth would like you to know how brilliant it is at handling virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) workloads. VDI may be a niche, but it is a miserably difficult niche, in which storage plays a huge role. There is a lot more to making VDI work well than just …

  1. Nate Amsden

    I guess

    I don't get out enough perhaps because I don't believe I've ever had a conversation about VDI with any person, any company at any time. I see these new storage startups touting VDI left and right but seems the market for VDI is pretty small.

    I came across this blog post a few years ago on VDI and thought it was a good read:

    http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/brianmadden/archive/2011/10/05/desktop-virtualization-is-not-about-saving-money.aspx

    Also the thought of running a hundred users on a single server when any given user can lock up a full cpu core(assuming they are being limited to a single cpu core) by running something crazy on their VM seems kinda scary to me.

    But perhaps for the helpdesk/service type of workloads it's fine. I've never dealt with that kind of stuff though, hell I haven't dabbled with internal IT in 12 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess

      We have a Sunray VDI solution and its errr, interesting. As you've said, its only really good for office applications, web apps and email but rubbish for much else.. On the admin side, its great to deploy hundreds of desktops from my comfy chair in the office and not have to visit remote offices for traditional desktop issues.

      Re saving money, with the kit, infrastructure, storage, licencing, youre probably spending more. What you do save is in desktop hardware support and visiting remote sites, and delivering software builds.

      Our VDI is based on ESXi so we implement resource caps to prevent 100% cpu. Saying that, VMWare should schedule around it. Again, in VDI, ram is king. You'll need much more ram than cpu.

      Back to the article, ive always wondered what would happen if we switched on the dedup on our ZFS Storage 7000 appliances and stuck our VDI image on it. Our small scale testing shows that the base image stays in ram cache which should result in nice speedy VDI, our appliances have ssd read and write caches so the rest should be quick too.. It never went into production though.

      Perhaps what these startups should think about is dedupe, high density slow spinning disk and ssd read / write cache, massive ram cache with high speed FC or 10ge iscsi if theyre thinking VDI

    2. Maventi

      Re: I guess

      Thanks for the link Nate! I have some experience with VDI and it's plain awful in my opinion, at least outside of a very niche set of situations. I completely understand the reasoning behind it, but in reality it's just an enormous workaround for a bunch of gaping architecture flaws in a particular desktop operating system series that is widely deployed in enterprises. If you don't believe me than just read through some of the VDI deployment guides to see what is actually involved in making it all work properly.

      It's a classic case of attempting (and sometimes succeeding) to create simplicity by adding vast layers of complexity.

      The sad part is it often results in an inferior experience for anything outside of basic office applications. Microsoft have done some clever things with RemoteFX to help with that but it still feels like a big hack.

      For those who do really want to play in the DaaS space, build a decent Terminal Services/RDS setup and leave it at that - it's far less work, provides pretty much the same user experience and is much more efficient on server/storage resources.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: I guess

        "For those who do really want to play in the DaaS space, build a decent Terminal Services/RDS setup and leave it at that - it's far less work, provides pretty much the same user experience and is much more efficient on server/storage resources."

        Until you run into licensing issues with any number of applications. Or some application crashes in one user session and either tanks the whole server or at least crashes the app in all user sessions on that machine. Or one user manages to overcome even Microsoft's latest and greatest "noisy neighbor" protections, rendering the entire system unusable for all users. Or until a single configuration error tanks a server for all users...

        Please, RDS as the solution to all ills is a Microsoft sales pitch used primarily because Microsoft is terrified that if people can ever actually afford to proper endpoint VDI then they will lose their "windows on every endpoint" monopoly. People will buy Android devices and just RDP in to consume Windows for legacy apps and use modern device local stuff for everything else.

        Oh wait, I see this every day.

        VDI done right is bloody easy today. VMware's Horizon 6.0 Suite makes all of the bits for proper VDI so simple a lobotomized chimp could do it. That includes packaging your apps into individual VMDKs and attaching them on an as-needed, policy-driven approach to golden master/spawned child disposable VMs.

        Or you can go the "static, dedicated" route for VDI, which I also have extensively deployed. They work like a hot damn for just about everything, and Liquidware Labs will solve any/all of your profile-related ills. Either in a VM or on a desktop. Or switching between the two.

        VDI is easy today. And it gets easier every day. That's why it's such a threat to Microsoft and why they so viciously protect their extortionate monopolistic pricing. Microsoft licensing if the roadblock to VDI, not the ancillary technologies that compensate for Microsoft's shitty - and downright insane - design decisions in the creation of their endpoint OS.

        Microsoft's engineers have been defeated. But the industry may never defeat their lawyers.

      2. Cloud, what..... Sorry... Um... - you just made that up.

        Re: I guess

        @Maventi

        Thank you I agree 100% and sometimes think I'm going a little mad as I'm constantly battered by suppliers telling me how great it is.

        I don't consider server based computing as VDI, its a seperate solution that has been around for 15 years and in contrast to VDI is fairly mature.

  2. P. Lee

    If VDI is about easy app deployment

    then what we really want from W10 is less Application-OS integration.

    I'm sure MS will be thrilled to hear that.

  3. kellerr13

    Another trick

    Here is another trick. Use of GiB or MiB or KiB instead of GB, MB, KB. The old terms are the correct ones, if you use the correctly. Kilo means 1000, not 1024. Just because computers use a base 2 system and it has remainin unused bits does not change the true meaning of the word.

    Mega means 1 Million

    Giga means 1 Billion.

    You don't need to worry about the extra bits of data unless you are a programmer, then you can simply reference them mathematically.

  4. Howverydare

    God, where did the 1990s come from in here?

    The views on VDI and what is achievable in here are, frankly, laughable. Perceptions of what is possible, beliefs about how complicated it has to be, all of it screams "I don't know the subject matter, but I'll post anyway".

    Every day I build desktop virtualisation solutions for hundreds or thousands of users. Every day they deliver better than desktop experience to users who are very pleased with the results, with IT departments thinking that VDI is magnificent and delivers exceptional soft benefits to them.

    If you haven't a clue what's possible with VDI, I recommend having a look through the nVidia GRID vGPU for VDI pages, and seeing what today's VDIs can do.

    1. pmelon

      Re: God, where did the 1990s come from in here?

      I'm really happy for you.

      Every day I'm at work I'm firefighting a Citrix VDI environment that has reduced user experience and associated satisfaction massively. The users that used to have their own desktops have exactly half the CPU power they used to. Windows chewing user profiles at random (which it will do at some point, no matter what you do) registry files full of garbage that eventually brings down the odd server or two. All good fun. It's a perfectly standard ESXi/Citrix VDI environment. We're not doing anything wrong or anything particularly fancy.

      I would never impose VDI on anyone. Anyone who says it's wonderful is doing so because it suits them. The end user experience tends to be awful.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: God, where did the 1990s come from in here?

        You mean the end user experience has been awful because the install you're working with, specifically, cut a shitload of corners and/or you don't know what you're doing.

        That's a hell of a different thing from generalizing to "this is how it is for everyone."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VDI is not VDI unless it is VMware with PCoIP, RDP sucks

    It is all about the protocol. PCoIP and if needed NVidia video cards with VMware rock. RDP sessions for MS VDI and Citrix is like the crap we had with Windows NT 3.51 using Citrix MetaFrame, it was OK for Office apps but no multimedia, no video, no 3D CAD and no 3D games.

    Get with this century and go with the VMware product. Top shelf is not your 3 dollar bottle of white lightening. LOL

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